So, in the end, 38 percent decided to pay for the lastest Radiohead album, “In Rainbows”, while 62 percent did not.
ComScore has provided the first definitive numbers regarding Radiohead’s decision to offer its latest album on a pay-what-you-think-it’s-worth basis. The music world is keenly watching Radiohead’s experiment to cut out the middle man and go it alone. Other bands, such as Nine Inch Nails, are planning similar defections.
During the first 29 days of October, ComScore notes, 1.2 million people worldwide visited the InRainbows site, with a “significant percentage of visitors ultimately downloading the album.” Of those who decided not to pay for the album, 60 percent were from the United States, 64 percent from the rest of the world.
“I am surprised by the number of freeloaders,” Fred Wilson, managing partner of Union Square Ventures and a well-known music aficionado, told ComScore. “The stories to date about the “In Rainbows” ‘pick your price’ download offer have been much more optimistic. I paid $5 U.S. and had no reluctance whatsoever to take out my card and pay.
“But, this shows pretty conclusively that the majority of music consumers feel that digital recorded music should be free and is not worth paying for. That’s a large group that can’t be ignored and its time to come up with new business models to serve the freeloader market,” he said.
The U.S., however, was willing to pay far more for each download ($8.05) compared with the rest of the world ($4.64). ComScore attributes this to more disposable income in the U.S. and the greater popularity of free file-sharing in other countries.
Of those willing to pay, the largest percentage (17 percent) paid less than $4, while 12 percent paid between $8 and $12, or approximately the cost of an album purchased via iTunes or AmazonMP3.
“The high percentage of users actually paying more than a few dollars for this download is actually pretty impressive,” Jim Larrison, general manager of corporate development at Adify, a provider of online ad network services, told ComScore. “I expected the vast majority of users to download the album for free or at most a few dollars. With 40 percent of consumers willing to pony up real money, this is a true win for the music industry as it shows there is still perceived value in the digital form of entertainment.
“Of course it does suggest that the marketplace is continuing to migrate and the music industry needs to shift with consumer behavior,” he said. “There are numerous methods to monetize the music, via shows and concerts, merchandising and box sets, commercial licensing, and even advertising; which is where the industry needs to progress towards, as the 40 percent paying for music might not be sustainable.”
In other Radiohead news, the band will be selling an “In Rainbows” boxed set, due in December, and will be working with the EMI label Parlophone to sell its full back catalog on a 4 GB USB stick in CD-quality WAV files, with digital artwork. The stick is in the shape of the Radiohead bear icon. It can only be purchased online.